Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) Bus Pass

Returning Students

Returning students are reminded to keep the PRESTO card they had the previous year. Students will keep using the same card in future years.

Starting August 16th 2023, a voucher code will appear in Mosaic, which will be used by students to upload the next year’s bus pass to the existing card.

To access the voucher code on Mosaic click on the  HSR Bus Pass tile containing your voucher code. Follow the instructions to load your HSR Bus Pass onto your card. Your PRESTO card must be registered to redeem the voucher.

The voucher load may take up to 24 hours to be processed. As there is no grace period this year, students will have to load their vouchers, at least 24 hours, prior to August 22 in order have a valid pass starting August 22. You must then tap onto an HSR bus within 45 days for your voucher to function.  Failure to tap your card within 45 days will discontinue the HSR Bus Pass functionality and you will need to contact PRESTO to have your voucher reinstated.

Your 2022-2023 Bus Pass is still valid until August 21st, 2023, and you may continue to use it even after loading your 2023-2024 Bus Pass onto your card.

New Students

New students can purchase a new unregistered presto card from Shoppers Drug Mart, Fortinos in Hamilton, from the HSR Customer Service Office at Hamilton GO, or online at prestocard.ca please refer to  https://www.prestocard.ca/en/about/get-a-presto-card.


Students cannot start using their 2023/2024 Bus Pass/Presto cards until August 22nd, 2023.  Use prior to this date will cause PRESTO “My Account” to be in a negative balance, and not work correctly.

What students are NOT ELIGIBLE for the HSR bus pass?

  1. Part-Time Graduate Studies (Including Visiting students)
  2. MBA (all)
  3. Divinity (all)

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is there a grace period?

The bus pass is in effect from September 1 through August each academic year. However, the bus pass will begin to function on August 22, 2023 for the benefit of students coming to Hamilton in advance of September.

2. New Students will need to obtain their own PRESTO card from a PRESTO vendor

Returning students will continue to use the PRESTO card provided in a previous year (or any PRESTO card). Simply retrieve the voucher code via Mosaic, log in to your PRESTO account and load the voucher code (see the video tutorial below). If a PRESTO card has become lost or stolen, please visit the nearest PRESTO Customer Service Outlet to purchase a replacement card.

3. How does the HSR Bus Pass PRESTO card work?

On every trip, tap your HSR Bus Pass PRESTO card on the bus PRESTO device located inside the front door of the bus and show your McMaster Student ID card. The system recognizes you are traveling with a valid HSR Bus Pass and deducts nothing when riding on HSR– all in less than a second.

When riding on other transit systems, it will calculate the correct fare for your trip and deduct the fare from the balance on your card. As the HSR Bus Pass is only valid on the HSR, make sure you have money loaded on your PRESTO card if you make trips outside of HSR.

4. What if I already have a PRESTO card?

You may use any PRESTO card, provided it is registered in your name, to redeem the voucher code.

5. How do I register my PRESTO card to load the voucher code?

The HSR Bus Pass can only be loaded via voucher onto a registered PRESTO card, which requires a “My PRESTO Account”. This allows your card to be replaced if lost or stolen, and the HSR Bus Pass and/or cash balance will be restored. Go to www.PRESTOcard.ca under “Create a new My PRESTO Account” (watch the video tutorial). Once you have created your account, please register your card by clicking “Add an Existing Card.”

Please note that if you already have an account, you may add a new card to your current account by clicking “Add an Existing Card” in the “Manage” menu. However, you can simply load the voucher code onto an existing, registered PRESTO card if you wish.

Check out the video tutorial to watch the registration process with instructions for both new PRESTO users and those who already use PRESTO.

6. What happens if I lose my HSR Bus Pass PRESTO card?

If you have lost a registered card that contains a voucher, you can transfer all of your card details (including voucher information) to a new card by following these steps:

Purchase a new card (fees apply/minimum e-purse load required) at Shoppers Drug Mart or a PRESTO Customer Service Outlet.

*PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT register the new/replacement card when it is purchased. PRESTO cannot transfer card details from a registered card (old card) to another registered card (new card).

  1. Log onto your PRESTO account.
  2. Click ‘Report Lost Card.’
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and choose to ‘Transfer the balance to a new card that you’ve ordered or already purchased’. All of the card details including registration information, card value balance, voucher details, etc will be transferred over to the new card.
  4. Enter your new card details and agree to Terms And Conditions.
  5. Wait 4 to 24 hours and tap your card on any PRESTO device.


Purchase a new card (fees apply/minimum e-purse load required) at Shoppers Drug Mart or at a PRESTO Customer Service Outlet.

*PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT register the new/replacement card when it is purchased. PRESTO cannot transfer card details from a registered card (old card) to another registered card (new card).

Call the PRESTO Contact Centre at 1-877-378-6123 to transfer the old card details to a new, unregistered card.

7. Caring for my PRESTO card/ What if my new card is defective?

The PRESTO card has an internal chip and antenna throughout the inside of the card. Cards CANNOT be punched or cut in any way, otherwise the card will no longer work and students will be responsible for the cost to replace the card. Students are also responsible for ensuring that cards are not damaged through misuse, bending or cracking, which may cause the card to stop functioning. Damaged cards can be replaced at a PRESTO Customer Service Outlet.

8. Which students are ELIGIBLE for the HSR Bus Pass?

  • Undergraduate and Graduate Students who are registered in 18 units total (across both terms) are charged the HSR fee to their student account.
  • Full-Time Graduate Students
  • Physician Assistants
  • MELD Students
  • Exchange students will not see a charge on their account as the student pays tuition through their home institution. Exchange students should appear in the HSR Student PRESTO Card file at the Campus Store, and are eligible for the card. If there is a problem contact the Student Accounts office via email at studacct@mcmaster.ca.
  • Part-time students with disabilities can apply to become MSU students.  This application must be approved and processed in order for the student to appear in the HSR Bus pass file.

9. Which students are NOT ELIGIBLE for the HSR bus pass?

  • Undergraduate Students enrolled in 17 units or less (across both terms)
  • Part-Time Graduate Students (including visiting students)
  • MBA Students (all)
  • Divinity College Students (all)
  • Continuing Education Students
  • Medicine Students (with the exception of Physician Assistants)
  • Midwifery Students

10. Can part-time students (17 units or less) qualify?

Part-time students can qualify under certain circumstances.  Additional details can be found online at MAPS. If a student does qualify to move from MAPS to MSU and the transfer is approved, the HSR fee will be applied to their account along with other MSU related fees. One business day following the HSR Fee appearing on the student’s account, they can come into the store to pick up their HSR Student PRESTO Card.

11. Where do students see the HSR charge on their account?

The path for students to review charges is Student Centre > Finances > Account Summary

The cost for each designation is:

  • Undergraduate (MSU) – $241.79
  • Graduate (GSA) – $302.35

12. Is the bus pass a mandatory fee?

The contract between students and the HSR, as agreed upon via student referendum, does not include an opt-out clause and therefore students do not have the ability to opt-out of the fee. This contract is re-negotiated and sent to student referendum every three years.

13. What do I do if I don’t see the HSR tile on Mosaic?

To qualify for the HSR bus pass you must be a full-time undergraduate student, enrolled in 18 units or more between the fall and winter semesters. If you do not meet this threshold then you are not charged MSU fees (including the bus pass) and this is likely why you are not seeing the tile on your Mosaic account. The best way to confirm your eligibility is to review your Account Summary on Mosaic to see whether or not you were charged the Bus Pass fee.

Please note that these charges are typically shown on the second page of your Account Summary PDF.To Access Your Account Summary: Login to Mosaic > Student Centre > Account Summary > Select current academic year > View Detail/Print.If you have indeed been charged the bus pass fee but don’t see the tile on Mosaic, please see below for next steps to rectify the problem.

14. What if I don’t appear in the HSR file?

If a student is not in the HSR Student PRESTO Card distribution file, they should determine if they are eligible (see above). If the student is eligible they should check their MOSAIC account to ensure they’ve been assessed the HSR fee. The student should confirm the date this charge was applied to their account, remembering it takes 1 business day for their ID number to show up in the HSR Student PRESTO Card distribution file. If it’s been more than 1 business day since the HSR fee was charged and the student still is not in the HSR Student PRESTO Card distribution file, the student should email the Student Accounts office at studacct@mcmaster.ca.

If the student has not been assessed the fee but feel they are eligible to receive a HSR pass (see above) they should also email the Student Accounts office at studacct@mcmaster.ca

15. Are McMaster students eligible for a GO Transit discount?

The concession required to receive the post secondary student discount is automatically loaded to your card when you redeemed your voucher.  There is nothing more that you need to do for payment on GO as your HSR pass does not apply to GO transit.

16. Are McMaster students eligible for opt-out?

Some Students might be eligible for an opt-out, such as but not limited to, students who reside outside of GTA and surrounding area, attend campus less than 5x per year, and/or co-op students whose Co-op is outside the Hamilton area. STUDENTS MUST CONTACT THE GSA directly at macgsa@mcmaster.ca for information pertaining to opting out. The DEADLINE for opting out is the first 10 days of each semester. 

17. Additional HSR Questions? 

Still have questions? Contact hsr@msu.mcmaster.ca.